Why Most People Undervalue Themselves and What It Costs

Article and Podcast
I grew up in a middle-class family. At aged eight, to my dismay, I was sent to boarding school, feeling confused and abandoned. At the start of each school term, before putting me on the train, my well-meaning parents gave me pocket money for the months I would be away. It wasn’t long before I began to confuse money with love.

THE FORMATIVE YEARS: As a rebellious adolescent I saw myself as a vagabond, and a starving poet. Then, as an aspiring Buddhist, and later when I became a professional Buddhist Meditation teacher, I believed that self-denial was inherently virtuous. Add to that a lifelong commitment to social justice, driven by misplaced guilt and confusion about my place in the world. Then add to the mix the shame that I had carried for years as a closeted transsexual. Everything that I valued and believed in had become mixed up with feelings of worthlessness and confusion, especially when it came to money.

On the surface my life was fine. I had a great partner, interesting and creative friends; I traveled and led workshops in Europe and the US. It was only later, when I hit an invisible wall, that I could look back and see how much of a gnawing disquiet there had been. I hadn’t believed in the truth of what I was doing because what I was doing was not in alignment with who I was. I felt like a fraud.

My world-view was supported by beliefs like:

  • If you’re a good person you make do with what you have.
  • Money is bad.
  • Wealthy people are greedy and exploit others.
  • If someone has money, someone else goes without.
  • Making money means compromising your integrity.
  • What is truly valuable in life has nothing to do with money.

By the way, do any of these sound familiar to you?

By the time I finally grew tired of reaping the rewards of these beliefs i.e. frustration, disappointment, denial, and fear, I realized that they had completely blocked any positive impact I aspired to have in the world. As long as I still held onto those beliefs, even unconsciously, any action I took to circumvent them was just like beating my head against a wall.

Sure, it’s easy to understand that beliefs are self-constructed, and that the only power they hold over you is the power that you give to them. But it’s one thing to recognize limiting beliefs; it’s something else to transform them on a deep unconscious level!

AN AWKWARD GAP: It was painfully obvious that my own limiting beliefs were incompatible with my new work. I was no longer a Buddhist Meditation Teacher. I was now an Executive Life Coach using NLP Coaching and I had even started to teach NLP Certification Trainings. I aspired to work with clients and students of the highest caliber; people who truly recognized the value of investing in themselves, who were committed to transforming their lives and the lives of their own clients. But how could I start attracting such clients when I had not yet learned to value myself and my work, and hadn’t transformed the beliefs that still guided my unconscious life?

I had invested hugely in trainings and mentorship. But it just made me more aware of how blocked was. It wasn’t just about money, thought money is often a good barometer. Our new business model and our new aspirations were simply not working.

All the training, qualifications, skills and marketing gimmicks, even a lifetime of helping other people, means nothing until you fully embody beliefs, values, and actions that correspond to your potential and what you aspire to accomplish in the world. Unless you completely transform your old limiting beliefs on the deepest unconscious level they act as a deadweight, dragging you down.

Then I hired a mentor who said: “How many people are you screwing over by NOT being able to sell them on your services?”

Those words turned everything around. It was both a challenge and a relief. It was no longer about me. It was about what I could actually do for others (and help them do for themselves) if I could just get out of my own way. How can you serve other people by playing small, or by pretending that things are okay when they’re not, or feeling so unclear about what you do that ‘selling’ feels like a lie?

WHAT I LEARNED: It was like an instant download that bypassed all my old resistances. It declared, “Get over yourself. Do the work that reflects your full capacity! Do what the world is calling you to do! Embody who you ARE. Don’t rely on tricks, second-hand information, or marketing and sales gimmicks. Stand by who you ARE so that what you DO is obvious. Then sell that!” Actually, it’s not even ‘selling’ anymore in the way that people usually think of selling.

Everyone’s story is unique. I don’t think mine is particularly unusual. Okay, so I am a woman of transsexual experience. I faced a big challenge and had to make some big changes, but don’t most people have do that at some time or another, in one way or another?

We live in a society that gives us a lot of mixed messages about money. Most of us inherit ideas and beliefs about money and self-worth that do not serve us. I’m sure that I’m not alone in some of those old beliefs I adopted about money and value.

A GOOD QUESTION: Someone once asked, “If you are uncomfortable when someone is selling something to you, ask yourself, in what ways are you NOT selling yourself?”

When Things Change, They Change Very, Very Fast

Once at a training seminar, we were being guided through an NLP pattern designed to identify and change an old limiting belief. After identifying the old belief, you design a new one to replace it. I had identified one of those old beliefs from my childhood, that: “Money is hard to come by.” I chose to replace it with a new belief, that “I am a People and Money Magnet.”

At the moment the NLP exercise ended, someone who I had met at the seminar turned and told me how grateful she was for something I had said to her the day before. She had decided to train with that same seminar company and to designate me as the recipient of the commission that would be generated. In the two or three seconds that it took her to tell me, I had earned $2500!

How is it that when you change your mind, something changes in the world around you as if the world were fluid in ways we can’t usually recognize? I don’t like magical thinking. But when magic happens, it’s hard to deny it.

On another occasion, my partner Michele and I had made a thirty thousand dollar commitment for training and mentorship that we hoped would transform our business. We did not have the slightest idea where the money would come from. It was a leap of faith. Then within two weeks we received an unexpected gift of just over thirty thousand dollars.

Once we had made the decision and taken the leap; in other words, once we had made the decision that WE were worth investing in, the money found its way to us.

I don’t know how this sort of thing happens, but it does. And it seems to be in direct proportion to how you perceive and value yourself, and your work in the world. That’s the magic, right there!

My first Hypnotherapy teacher used to say, “It was a happy day for fools when modesty became a virtue!”

As a child I was very shy. I would blush to speak to more than two or three people at one time. If the phone rang I would walk away, rather than speak to some unknown friend of my parents.

Invisibility has merit only for those who have been brainwashed or coerced into submission, resignation, or perpetual fear, and who imagine it is safer to keep quiet than to speak. This has nothing to do with being introvert or extrovert. Some of the most visible and influential people in the world are, by nature, introverts. They have simply learned to balance their personal lives with their need to serve the world in the most effective way.

If someone’s sense of purpose makes you uncomfortable you say that they are driven. But they are no more driven than a well-tuned engine that is working at maximum efficiency.

So many people undervalue their gifts. The powerful catalyst they can be for others remains invisible. They live with false modesty, cheating themselves and others, ashamed to call out to the world and affirm their presence. 


People continue to undervalue themselves because they have not found the means to identify and transform the beliefs that hold them captive; or the fire to do so.

What it costs is everything, the world! Because the world is cheated of seeing you stand in your power and beauty – brave and free at last, living at your peak, giving your best, living in sustainable joy, enjoying generating the value that you know you are worth. For more click here